The Green Bay Packers made the biggest signing of the day Saturday, agreeing to terms with free agent defensive end Julius Peppers. Green Bay managed to get Peppers signed to a three-year contract for a max value of $30 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed. That includes $8.5 million over the first year, meaning the Packers would not be on the hook for anything in the second or third year.
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SB Nation NFL
In other words, if Peppers struggles in his first season, the Packers could cut him heading into the 2015 season if need be. On the other hand he's not prohibitively expensive or anything like that, so he could remain with the team the following season if he's playing well.
Peppers was released by the Chicago Bears earlier in the week due to his high salary-cap hit. Chicago was reportedly interested in bringing Peppers back, and despite the fact that he's 34 years old it sounds as though a lot of teams were interested in Peppers' services. The 13-year veteran has been plenty productive in recent seasons, though it seems unlikely he'll make it the whole three years of this contract, regardless.
Green Bay struggled to make it to the quarterback last season, but adding Peppers to the fold with Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Nick Perry and B.J. Raji should improve things drastically. The Packers were expecting the pass rush to be better last season, and it hurt them big time.
Over at Acme Packing Company, they note that Peppers was taken from a rival, but also that he has struggled of late:
Not only do the Packers pick up a player who has amassed 119 sacks in 12 years, but they also take that player away from a divisional rival. The Bears cut Peppers partially for salary cap reasons but he is also coming off of one of his least productive seasons with 7.5 sacks. Peppers had 22.5 sacks from 2011-12 so he's not far removed from quality pass rushing numbers.
Here's what else you might have missed from Saturday in the NFL:
The Cleveland Browns signed running back Ben Tate to a two-year contract on Saturday. His contract carries a max value of $7 million, though that likely includes incentives based on playing time and possibly performance in general. Tate has made his name as the backup to Arian Foster with the Houston Texans, which was possible given Foster's significant injury history. He's often been pegged as a future starter and should be the favorite to win the starting job in Cleveland.
They like the deal over at Dawgs By Nature:
By this being a two-year deal, though, you'd have to imagine that this is still a "prove it" deal. In fact, if Tate explodes in 2014 for the Browns, I wouldn't be surprised to see him receive a contract extension after the season is over. Tate will immediately become the team's featured running back, and he has experience in the zone blocking scheme, making him a good fit with Kyle Shanahan.
The New England Patriots brought back wide receiver Julian Edelman on Saturday. Edelman emerged as an effective slot receiver with Tom Brady throwing him the football the past couple seasons, and he wanted to test the open market before returning. As noted by Pats Pulpit, the Patriots reportedly offered Edelman a three-year contract before free agency began, but it sounds as though he's only signed a one-year contract to remain with the team. Perhaps he wants to hit the open market again in 2015 after what he hopes will be a strong season next year.
Former New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper has joined the Carolina Panthers on a two-year deal. Harper, a long-time veteran, is nearing the end of his career but has been a starter with the Saints for some time and has only slowed down marginally. The Panthers lost both Mike Mitchell and Quintin Mikell in free agency, so Harper's signing is important. He should be a starter from the get-go, and fits Carolina's aggressive scheme well.
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SB Nation NFL
Lamarr Houston is getting a sizable contract from the Chicago Bears: five years at $35 million is a lot to pay for a player that hasn't quite broken out yet, but it looks as though his deal is actually team-friendly. He's guaranteed almost $15 million, but that will be paid out over the course of two seasons. He's got a $6 million salary in 2015 and that doesn't become fully guaranteed until after this coming season. It's more like a two-year deal for $15 million with no penalties to release Houston after that fact. If he performs to expectations though, he'll be considered a bargain.
The Oakland Raiders re-signed safety Usama Young to a two-year contract on Saturday. Young joined the Raiders on a one-year contract last offseason, and he was expected to be a starter before Charles Woodson was signed. Instead, Young became the backup and played in just 12 games. Despite that, he obviously felt like remaining with Oakland was best for his career, and he might get an opportunity to start if Oakland doesn't bring Woodson back on another one-year deal.